Zoom Koom

A few years ago, I packed my bicycle, a tent and much too much luggage and flew to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. After a day rebuilding my bike, I left Ouaga, cycled to the very north of the country and the market village of Gorom-Gorom. That is where I first tasted one of the most interesting and refreshing drinks ever, zoom-koom.

I went on to cycle around the whole country for a month. Every evening, I would simply stop somewhere, in the countryside, and ask a local farming family to let me pitch my tent close to their home. Not once was I refused hospitality, which often included sharing the family’s evening meal. I ate a lot of millet flour, cooked into a thick paste and served with babobab leaf sauce. Zoom-koom did stick with me, though, and I had as much of it as I could get.

If in a foreign village you find people walking upside down, walk upside down. Proverb from Burkina Faso

Zoom koom means “flour water” in Móoré, the language of the Mossi, the majority ethnic group of the country. The name comes from the drink’s main ingredient, millet flour. Other key ingredients are tamarind juice and fresh ginger. Pineapple and sugar bring the sweet touch that balances the drink.



  • 300 g millet flour
  • 200 g sugar (to taste)
  • 1 l tamarind decoction (see recipe below)
  • 2 pieces of ginger (5cm each)
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks


  1. Blend the pineapple and ginger in a blender until smooth.
  2. Add the flour. Pulse for a few minutes until everything seems homogeneous.
  3. Add tamarind juice (see below) and sugar. Blend well again, sieve through a fine mesh strainer.
  4. Serve over ice.



  • 500g tamarind pods
  • 2l water


  1. Prepare the tamarind by removing the outer shell and peeling off the twiggy membrane attached to it from tip to tail.
  2. Place the cleaned pulp in a deep pot along with the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook for about 30 minutes, mashing occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat. once it has cooled, strain the liquid through cheesecloth and discard the solids. the decoction is now ready to use.

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